Christopher Wren

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Wren, Christopher


Born Oct. 20, 1632, in East Knoyle, Wiltshire; died Feb. 25, 1723, at Hampton Court. English architect and scientist.

Wren studied mathematics at Oxford between 1649 and 1653. He became a professor of astronomy in London in 1657 and at Oxford in 1661. From 1681 to 1683 he was president of the Royal Society of London. Turning to architecture in the 1660’s, he became an eminent representative of English classicism. Although his plan for rebuilding London after the Great Fire of 1666 was not implemented, Wren erected a number of houses and churches in the city. This work was marked by great variety in the resolution of structural and spatial problems (Church of St. Mary-le-Bow, 1680). Wren’s greatest achievement was St. Paul’s Cathedral in London (1675–1710), the largest Protestant church in the world. The cathedral harmoniously combines a long nave with a domed crossing. Other structures built by Wren in London include the majestic hospitals in Chelsea (1694) and Greenwich (1616–1728). Wren was also responsible for much of the architecture in university cities (Trinity College Library, Cambridge, 1676–84).


The Wren Society, vols. 1–20. Oxford, 1924–43.
Gould, H. Sir Christopher Wren: Renaissance Architect, Philosopher, and Scientist. New York, 1970.
Whinney, M. Wren. London, 1971.
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Designed by Sir Cristopher Wren, it sits on the old Tudor Palace where Henry VIII was born.